Day 1: 100 Days of Chemo

 

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Rainy spring day. Daffodils bloom along the 13-block walk to the cancer agency.

Yes, this was planned. When I moved last summer I wanted to be able to walk to my “favourite places” in the community. Shops, fitness, library, movies, support group, hospital, doctors and the cancer castle where I’ll be plugged into chemo drugs for the next five months.

A few changes since August 2012 when I last had chemo cocktails at the castle. Wifi! Why not? When you’re plugged in, you’re really plugged in.

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The chemotherapy pump (or infusion pump) is pinky-purple (a bit too breast cancer-branding for my taste) but it gives more patient-understandable info than previous models. It shows which drug or fluids are pumping at what rate and how much longer we have to go.

I have a new drug this time, Gemcitabine, as well as 2012’s favourite Cisplatin. The platin part is good… It means the gold standard platinum drugs are still working for me. Gemcitabine we will see.

My doctor said the goal of these drugs is to reduce the size of the tumours. “Not to eliminate them?” I asked hopefully. “Well yes,” she said, cocking her head to the side, as if to agree with me but without commitment.

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You see there’s no cure with this cancer business. Once you’ve had a recurrence of ovarian cancer it’s only a matter of time (and usually a short time) that your friend returns with a vengeance.

Of course not everyone has a second recurrence. there are always exceptions. My support group friend J. hasn’t recurred again in seven years. And there’s a woman in the U.S., H., who is famous for living 30 years since her one and only recurrence. But I’m passed that.

I’ll be pleased to have those tumours (and we know where you are now, you buggers) reduced while maintaining a reasonable quality of life. It must include:

  • camping by the sea with my personal chef this summer
  • reading (please chemo brain be gentle this time)
  • connecting with my friends and family
  • spending time with my kids who are faraway at university and
  • skiing again next winter.

Despite this season’s skimpy snow, I took downhill ski lessons on Cypress Mountain (home of the 2010 Olympic gold medals) and skied 9 days — there, Seymour and Manning Park. Let me do that again next winter and I’ll get through the next five months.

After 2.5 hours, the machine beeped its final call for the week. Unplugged, bandaged and I was on my way. I walked home. The air was fresh.

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